What Color Grout to Use with White Subway Tile Backsplash

Choosing the right grout color for a white subway tile backsplash can make all the difference in your kitchen or bathroom design. The color you select for the grout will impact the overall look and feel of the space. With so many options to consider, deciding on the best grout color can be a daunting task. Here is an in-depth look at the factors to weigh when selecting grout color for white subway tiles.

Balancing Classic and Contemporary

White subway tile is a timeless and versatile choice that has been popular for decades. The classic bright white color works in both traditional and contemporary spaces. Choosing a grout color requires finding the right balance between sticking with a classic look or adding a modern twist.

Think about the overall design aesthetic you want to achieve. Do you want a more vintage feel with traditional white grout? Or are you looking to give the backsplash a more contemporary edge with a gray, brown, or colored grout? The grout color can take the look from classic to trendy.

Factors to Consider

Several important factors come into play when determining the best grout color for white subway tile:

Complement the Tile

You want a grout color that works well with bright white tile. Matching white grout is the most traditional choice. However, bright white grout can sometimes appear too stark and cold next to the tiles. Softer white or light gray grout may complement the white tiles better in some spaces.

Contrast the Tile

Adding some contrast with a gray, brown, or colored grout can make the white tiles pop. Darker grout lines will accentuate each individual tile. Keep in mind highly contrasting grout may look busier and emphasize any uneven grout lines.

Room Size and Lighting

Larger and well-lit spaces can handle more contrast between the grout and tile. Smaller or darker rooms may call for grout that blends in more with the tile so walls don’t appear too busy.

Personal Preference

There are no set rules, so your personal taste should ultimately guide your grout selection. Some homeowners prefer pure white grout lines, while others like the modern flair of gray. Select the color and style you find most appealing.

Future Plans

Take into account any future remodeling or décor changes. Will you be changing countertops, floors, or paint colors? A versatile grout color like gray will work well if you plan to alter other elements down the road.

Best Grout Colors for White Subway Tile

Now let’s look at the most popular and timeless grout color options to pair with classic white subway tile:


Matching bright white grout is the most traditional choice. Pure white prevents any color from competing with or dulling the clean white tiles. It works especially well in vintage, farmhouse, or Mediterranean spaces. White grout highlights the simple geometry of subway tile and gives walls a smooth, seamless look. However, some find pure white grout and tile to be too sterile and icy looking. An off-white grout may soften the appearance.

Light Gray

Light gray is one of the most popular grout colors used with white subway tiles. Unlike stark white grout, soft gray adds subtle contrast and a hint of depth between the tiles. Light gray creates a more contemporary or industrial look. It works well in modern, urban, and transitional spaces. The gray adds interest while still maintaining a clean and neutral palette.

Dark Gray

Going darker with a charcoal gray or black grout creates major contrast with white subway tiles. The bold dark color makes the white tiles pop and stand out sharply. Dark gray can give walls an edgy, urban vibe in contemporary spaces. However, the high contrast can also make tiles look disjointed if grout application is uneven. Keep the dark color mostly for backsplashes or accent walls instead of full room tile coverage.

Beige and Taupe

For a warmer, more calming effect, consider beige, taupe, or light brown grout. The earthy tones add subtle contrast without overpowering the white tiles. Beige and taupe work well for a Tuscan, rustic, farmhouse, or Spanish style space. Just be aware that light grout can show dirt and require more frequent cleaning.

Blue, Green, and Colored

Make the backsplash the focal point with a bold colored grout like blue, green, or terra cotta. This eye-catching choice adds artsy pop to contemporary, eclectic, or retro spaces. However, colored grout shows any uneven application. Keep the dark, dramatic colors for backsplashes and avoid full room coverage. Soft pastel grout like powder blue can provide a cheerful accent that works in a range of styles.

Grout Color DO’s and DON’Ts

Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind when selecting the perfect grout color:


  • Consider the overall design and style you want to achieve.
  • Look at other elements like counters, floors, and paint colors.
  • View tile and grout color options in person before deciding.
  • Test grout color samples on a small section of your backsplash and view in natural light at different times of day.
  • Use a darker grout color strategically as an accent, such as on a focal wall or backsplash area.


  • Apply colored or dark grout on floors or areas prone to staining.
  • Choose a grout color online without viewing a physical sample.
  • Use stark white grout if you want to soften the look of white tiles.
  • Go too dark with grout if your walls and lighting are already dark.
  • Use a bright colored grout like red if aiming for a neutral color palette.

Applying Grout Properly

Once you’ve selected the ideal grout color, careful application is crucial. Take measures to apply grout evenly and cleanly for best results:

  • Work in small sections so grout stays flexible and workable before wiping down.
  • Hold float at a 90° angle and apply grout forcefully into joints.
  • Wipe off excess grout in a diagonal motion across tiles.
  • Don’t allow grout to sit too long before wiping tiles.
  • Use plenty of water when wiping to avoid smearing.
  • Be extra meticulous cleaning when using contrasting grout colors.
  • Avoid getting different amounts of water in grout mix that can lead to color variations.

Maintaining Grout over Time

Grout needs regular maintenance to look its best. Follow these tips to keep grout clean and in good condition:

  • Seal grout with a penetrating sealer annually or biannually.
  • Check for cracks or crumbling grout and re-apply as needed.
  • Use a pH-neutral daily cleaner for tile and grout.
  • For tough stains, use a specially formulated grout cleaner.
  • Re-seal grout after intensive cleaning.
  • Avoid harsh cleaners or whiteners that can degrade grout.

Grout Color Complements White Subway Tile Backsplash

Choosing the perfect grout color may seem complicated given the many options. But keeping in mind your overall design goals and styles will help narrow down the selection. White subway tile backsplashes look classic and clean with white grout but can also take on a more modern, eye-catching look with gray, beige, or colored grout. Consider test samples to ensure you get the ideal color that brings your backsplash design together. With proper grout application and maintenance, your subway tile and grout choice will add timeless, stylish appeal.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most popular grout color with white subway tiles?

Light gray is one of the most popular choices for grout color with white subway tile. Its soft contrast adds depth without overpowering the classic white tiles. Light gray has a versatile, contemporary look.

Should I match the grout color to my white subway tile?

It’s common to match the grout to white subway tiles for a seamless look, but it can sometimes appear too harsh. Slightly off-white or light gray grout may be a better pairing with the tiles. You have creative liberty to use a contrasting grout color instead if it fits your style.

Can I use a dark grout with white subway tile?

Yes, dark charcoal gray or even black grout can be striking against bright white tiles. Just keep in mind high contrast grout shows more unevenness in application. Limit darker grout colors to backsplashes or accent walls instead of full room coverage.

What’s the easiest grout color to maintain?

Lighter grout colors like white, off-white and light gray are the easiest to keep clean and looking new. Darker colors like gray, brown and colored grout show dirt and stains more visibly and require vigilant cleaning. Make sure to seal any grout color annually.

Should I grout all the way to the top of my subway tile backsplash?

Yes, it’s recommended to apply grout all the way up to the top edge of the subway tile backsplash. This gives the installation a finished look. Take care to neatly apply grout at the top since any smears will be visible.